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Is there a healthy migrant effect in relation to oral health among adults in England?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-58
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Published1 Apr 2020



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King's Authors


Objective: The aim of the study was to assess the healthy migrant effect in relation to oral health among adults in England. Study design: This is a secondary data analysis of a nationally representative survey. Methods: Data from 13,373 adults of Irish, black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese ethnicity, who participated in the Health Survey for England, were analysed. The proportions of edentate and dentate adults with toothache in the last 6 months in first- and second-generation migrants within each ethnic group were compared with those in the white British (reference group) ethnic group in logistic regression models after adjusting for demographic factors and socio-economic position. Among first-generation migrants, the associations of age at arrival and length of residence with each oral health outcome were assessed in logistic regression models after adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Results: Compared with white British migrants, first-generation black Caribbean (odds ratio [OR]: 1.42) and second-generation Pakistani (OR: 3.16) migrants had higher odds of being edentulous, whereas first-generation Indian (OR: 0.62), Pakistani (OR: 0.62), Bangladeshi (OR: 0.41) and Chinese (OR: 0.49) migrants had lower odds. Among dentate adults, second-generation Irish (OR: 1.51) migrants, first- and second-generation black Caribbean (OR: 1.61 and 1.54, respectively) migrants, first-generation Indian (OR: 1.24) migrants and second-generation Pakistani (OR: 1.34) migrants had higher odds of having toothache in the past 6 months, whereas second-generation Bangladeshi (OR: 0.51) migrants had lower odds than white British. Age at arrival and length of residence were positively associated with being edentulous among first-generation black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrants. Conclusion: Evidence on the healthy migrant effect was mixed, with more consistent findings seen for edentulousness among Asian groups. Black Caribbean migrants were generally the ethnic group with the worst oral health when compared with white British migrants.

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